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Chapter Six

21st Century Campus Life

Looking across campus on any given day, you will see a parade of students in Clarkson T-shirts, or if it is colder, sweatshirts. On Career Fair days, that uniform changes to sharp suits and ties or skirts and heels. There is no dress code, but there is a Clarkson identity. Students realize that their time at Clarkson can shape their futures. The University is helping to shape those futures through an increasingly organized emphasis on networking, real-world experience and individual counseling and advising.

Students have many support systems, including the Student Health and Counseling Center, the Student Success Center, the Writing Center and tutoring sessions, as well as alumni mentors. Retention programs also help identify students who need extra support and assist them in getting back on track.

What many alumni report as being the most important aspect of their time on campus was friendships and fun. Many student friendships form in residence halls, which use themed housing to help students find their tribes. The residence halls are constantly being upgraded. Experiments in themed housing have included:

  • 1995: Substance Free House
  • 2004: Venture@Moore House, where students operated the business, Revolution24, Inc.
  • 2008: WiSE (Women In Science and Engineering)
  • 2019: The Outing Club took over two remodeled Riverside Apartment buildings offering drive-in gear storage.
  • 2019: Living & Learning, for those interested in working with K-12 students


Clarkson University Student Association

Also important for fostering friendships and fun are student activities supported by the Clarkson University Student Association (CUSA), whose mission is to get students out of their rooms and involved in campus life. CUSA funds student clubs in order to build a vibrant and inclusive student life on campus while also making it possible for students to travel beyond the North Country. Club sports travel regularly, as does the Outing Club.

Being a CUSA representative provides students with professional leadership training in Robert’s Rules of Order, as well as opportunities to liaison with faculty and the administration and work with a budget that is now over a million dollars. CUSA is an important contributor to major infrastructure initiatives, including the Student Center fundraising and planning in 2008 and the Cheel renovations in 2019. A 2018 initiative that took years of planning was the student bus that shuttles students to Walmart, Walgreens and downtown Potsdam. The vision is to connect with SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, and eventually St. Lawrence University, allowing more student participation in events and classes at all the Associated Colleges.

CUSA runs the Knight Life webpage, which lists over 200 active clubs, 18% of which are sports-related. The two most active clubs are probably:

Clarkson Union Board

The Clarkson Union Board (CUB) is Clarkson’s programming board and hosts a variety of campus events throughout the semester, such as concerts, hypnotists, comedians, movies, open mic nights and other performances. It also co-sponsors events with other organizations, offices and departments.

CUB sponsors and organizes two main concerts a year — one in the fall (FallFest) and one in the spring (SpringFest). Musical acts from past shows have included Panic! At the Disco, Waka Flocka Flame, Andy Grammer, Ra Ra Riot, Hoodie Allen, 3OH!3, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and PVRIS.

The Outing Club

This club is extremely active. Students lead trips, help maintain trails, work on fundraisers and organize safety and wilderness presentations. The Outing Club moved into Riverside Apartments in 2019 for drive-in access to the equipment storage space.

Diversity and Inclusion

Not only are diversity and inclusion critical to the fabric of a healthy society, but they are important for innovation and effective community development. Women founded the University, and while men currently outnumber women in undergraduate enrollment, women currently make up nearly a third of the total undergraduate population. At the graduate level, women represent 42% of the population. That increase reflects the University’s ongoing commitment to attracting and recruiting talented young women.

To attract underrepresented and international students, Clarkson has created, grown and regrown pipelines to the cities. It supports underrepresented students through CUPO programs, including McNair Scholars, LAMP, ASPIRE and CSTEP. The diverse Clarkson faculty introduce students to variety of other cultures and worldviews.

Clarkson’s number of first-generation or low-income students — an important element of diversity — exceeds that at other universities. These students are supported through HEOP programs, like SPREE, and the Student Success Center.

Some of the clubs and professional societies that support diversity and inclusion are the Society of Professional Women, Muslim Student Association, Clarkson Hillel Jewish Association, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, National Association of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Gender Sexuality Alliance.

Sororities and Fraternities

Sororities and fraternities at Clarkson work to implement their founding principles of leadership, scholarship, philanthropy, friendship and personal growth. Fraternities have been a part of the University since 1903 and sororities since 1977. Together, since 2001, they have raised over $80,000 for charity and performed over 20,000 hours of service to the Potsdam community. Today, Clarkson recognizes four sororities and 10 fraternities.

Pep Band

The Pep Band keeps the Clarkson hockey games lively and intimidates the other team in a most sportsmanlike way. While it sometimes stirs controversy, the Pep Band keeps tradition alive: the cheer, “Let’s go Tech!,” the countdown to half time and the songs “Proud Mary,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “Can’t Turn You Loose!” There are over 50 active members, and alumni often join in at the hockey games. Practice is optional and low key. Over the past several years, the band has been getting more attention and opportunities. The University recruits members to play at campus events, and the band travels the country for ECAC and NCAA games. They have also traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland for the men’s Friendship Four and the women’s Friendship Series.